International Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Awareness Day

Dr Alison Earley, 15th May 2022

Skin to skin care, also known as kangaroo mother care, is one of the key interventions suggested by the World Health Organisation to improve survival of babies.  It has so many advantages for new born babies, including preventing hypothermia, promoting breastfeeding, reducing infection and encouraging mother/baby bonding. The feature picture here is from Healthy Newborn Network (https://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/) to remind us that KMC is an especially important intervention for babies who are born premature.

Although the advantages of skin to skin care have been recognised for many years, and in many countries, it is still not as widely practised as it could be. Including in the UK.

NICHE International emphasises this skill as part of the Neonatal Care Course which we are teaching. It saves lives (see https://www.nicheinternational.org.uk/kangaroo-mother-care-saves-lives/).

A doctor and nurse practise putting a baby skin to skin during a recent NCC in Cameroon.

Today is International Nurses’ Day!

Dr Alison Earley

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

Felicia with baby manikins donated to or bought by NICHE, and used for training in new born resuscitation

The theme for 2022 is ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health

Working in neonatal care in Cameroon, Liberia and Uganda it is very obvious just how crucial good nurses are to the survival of all babies, but especially those who are premature or unwell. 

We have also found ‘voices to lead’ among the nurses with whom we have worked, and seen their dedication and abilities.

Felicia is a nurse working in an isolated rural setting in Adamawa Region, one of the Regions in the North of Cameroon which has very high perinatal mortality.

The European instructors have gone home. The Cameroonian faculty are into the last stretch of this intensive training period with the second NCC being delivered now

by Grace Ngoran

The second NCC kicked off today with 28 participants in attendance (the 4 extra being the staff who could not make it down to Yaoundé from Bamenda earlier in the week due to concerns around their safety). The excitement was evident as the instructor candidates came up again powerfully with excellent performance. The workshops were really excited particularly the breastfeeding workshop where everyone used the breast models to demonstrate proper latching technique. Participants were observed to be more involved and participatory.

Knitted visual aids in use during the breastfeeding workshop in Yaoundé today

Brighten the corner where you are…

….is a Cameroonian expression meaning do your best to improve things wherever you find yourself. 

Instructor candidate Dr Matzo Fanny Kigne teaches practical skills on a Neonatal Care Course.

During the last 2 days our newly trained Instructor Candidates have stepped up and exceeded expectations in the way they have trained 16 learners on a Neonatal Care Course.  Some of these new trainers come from rural districts in the Northern Abamawa Region, where they work in small isolated units.  They are determined to improve the standard of newborn care in the places they work.  They will indeed be brightening their corner!

Supervised instructors in full swing at Cameroon Neonatal Care Courses

Newly trained NCC instructors teaching their first course

It is always a great moment as an instructor trainer to watch someone you have just trained stand up and deliver a lecture, facilitate a workshop or teach a skill in the way that the Resus Council’s Generic Instructor Course (GIC) suggests. In the UK, we don’t often have the privilege of seeing this beautiful transition from student to teacher as people disperse after a GIC and teach on their provider courses at a different time. Because of the financial and environmental cost of NICHE volunteers travelling long distances to the countries where we are active, we now attach 2 NCCs to the end of every GIC to complete the new instructors’ training. And the rewards for the exhausted team of trainers are immense.

Keen midwives and nurses being trained in newborn care on the NCC currently going on in Yaoundé

These 16 healthcare professionals are learning about the care of the newborn infant in the first 28 days of life. (There should have been 4 more but it was too dangerous for them to travel down from Bamenda in the North West region of Cameroon which still has a significant amount of civil unrest). The learners are also providing the new instructors with the means to complete their training as instructors as each newly trained instructor has to teach on 2 NCCs, supervised by more senior instructors, in order to be fully fledged instructors themselves.

The NICHE team of 4 has been working very hard this week to deliver a GIC and these 2 NCCs. They started the week by running a one day instructor update for the established NCC faculty in Cameroon who have been courageously continuing the project throughout their country’s period of civil unrest and the pandemic.

You can read more about our first Instructor Development Day below.

“I am sending them out to blow their trumpets”

3rd Cameroonian GIC completed and the first 2 local GIC instructors have begun their training

This is what our programme manager for newborn training in Cameroon said today, as we were coming to the end of their successful “train the trainers” course.

Dr Ferenc Sari, European Resuscitation Council educator, and our educator on this week’s GIC course in Cameroon, has been impressed by the progress of the participants over the 2 days. We are privileged to be able to witness and support their first teaching experience which will occur when they teach on Neonatal Care Courses later in the week.

A GIC candidate taking Alison through a resuscitation scenario
GIC candidates discussing peer-to-peer learning

The Learning Conversation in Cameroon

The circle of trust

The learning conversation is a term used in adult education, and is a skill required for giving feedback to learners on their performance. A well-managed learning conversation should leave learners feeling “relieved, valued and clear about their next steps”. It is not an easy skill to master, and requires practice.

In Cameroon this week, NICHE instructors have spent a day refreshing the skills of newly qualified local Neonatal Care Course instructors. The learning conversation was one of the skills we spent time on together. During these sessions we sat in a circle with the candidates, sometimes know as “circle of trust”. This was a new concept to them, but they embraced the principles. The exercise emphasised the importance of trust, particularly as we all come from such different cultures and backgrounds.

Instructor Development Day, yaounde

Dr Alison Earley

This is the group of 11 Instructors who attended the first Instructor Development Day that NICHE has run. They came from 5 different Regions in Cameroon, and did their instructor training in 2016 and 2018. They are a mixture of doctors, nurses and midwives. All were keen to refresh and develop their skills as trainers and the course was lively and enjoyed by everyone.

En route to Cameroon after being grounded for 2 years!

Skelleftea Airport in north Sweden

We are delighted to be welcoming Dr Ferenc Sari to the team for this week’s trip to Cameroon. An emergency department doctor and an educator with the European Resuscitation Council, he has lots of experience of living, working and teaching overseas. We were on tenterhooks for his Covid PCR result as he has only recently recovered from the illness but all 4 instructors had negative results yesterday and are now en route to Yaoundé from Sweden, Northern Ireland and the UK.

Ferenc’s journey is probably the longest

The team has a heavy week ahead of them. They are facilitating the first ever Instructors Development Day (IDD) as well as a Generic Instructor Course (GIC) followed by two Neonatal Care Courses (NCC).

Back to cameroon later this month

Julia’s been packing up teaching equipment again

NICHE Instructors are excited to be returning to Cameroon later this month. We are piloting a specially written Instructors’ Development Day for the faculty members there to support their Continuing Professional Development. This will be followed by a Generic Instructor Course with two of the Cameroonian faculty beginning to train as instructor trainers themselves (see step 9 of the “10-steps to sustainability” plan) and two more Neonatal Care Courses (NCCs).

Over 300 healthcare professionals in Cameroon have been trained in the care of the newborn infant in the first 28 days of life and the team is beginning to see the positive effect on their neonatal mortality figures.